Claude Davidson Interview

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Interviewer:  Jim Newbigin


Today is the 17th November, 2014 and on behalf of the HB Knowledge Bank I'm interviewing today Claude Davidson and Claude's going to give us an insight into his family life. Claude, good afternoon.

Good afternoon. I'm Claude Davidson. I came to Hastings when I was 4 years old. First of all I was born in May 20th 1918, and the reason I got the name of Claude 'cause my uncle was fighting in the war and they didn’t think he'd come back from the war and I was born so straight away that's how I got the name of Claude. Actually it was supposed to have been Clyde but they were so Scotch that straight away the joker wrote it down as Claude, so I remained as Claude from there on.

I came to Hastings there and Hastings was rather a small place. Everybody just about knew one another and you didn’t go far without someone was mentioned and you knew them and everything. I went to Central School. I lived in 207 Southampton Street and I used to wander down from there to Central School, and on the way the train might be gonna come we’d have a penny which we’d put on the railway line and the train would run over it when it went past to see how much it flattened. Then we went past the old gasworks there on the corner, a bit of a smell of the gas and have a nosy in the gate and think oh, gee whizz, that's a great place. Then I went on to Central School.

The head of the Central School was Banks. He was a high flyer in the... Banks... but I went there for quite a number of years 'til straight away they brought in zoning and I was transferred to Parkvale. Well I went to Parkvale. It was quite a good school and everything like that. We’d wander through school. We’d wander through Beatson Park which was a golf links. I used to make my money there. They used to hit across the lake and straight away the balls would go down in the lake so I had a good idea. I’d get up early in the morning there when no one was around, be about 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning and I’d head over to Beatson Park, and there were all the balls in the lake spread out everywhere and I’d think oh, this was great. So I’d wade in there in the mud and everything and get them out and then I’d take them home and scrub them all up and I’d be back about 11 o‘clock to sell them to the golfers. I used to get a shilling a time. That was marvellous, you know. So I enjoyed that – that was quite good.

Beatson Park was quite a nice park and everything, and now it's changed to Windsor Park but I still see it as Beatson Park. And there used to be a big Chinese garden just next to Beatson Park. But even Grove Road - Grove Road never went through to Karamu Road when I was a boy. It used to just stop at Willowpark Road and then you had to walk through a paddock and then you’d get into the other side of it and carry on up to Karamu Road up to the butchers up there on the corner there.

I’m starting to amble a bit, I’d better get back to Parkvale School. Now I was there for a number of years. I was a dud student, I had no brains and the teacher would turn round and say “all over two mistakes you’d get the strap”. Well I knew I was going to get the strap before I started to get the spelling word. And I got a fair thrashing at school because I seemed to be the one who seemed to cause most of the trouble.

But straight away when I left school I had no brains 'cause I worked before school and after school. I worked for a place called Nutter's. Nutter's was on the corner of Karamu Road and Heretaunga Street and straight away I’d go there in the morning before school and I’d sweep the shop all out, all out behind the counters and clean all up and then the next job I’d go off to school and after school I’d come in and deliver the parcels everywhere. The parcels had to go out anywhere.

I needed a raincoat one time so they said 'oh we’ll buy the raincoat and you can pay 1/- a week off.' Well I only got 5/- a week so that was 4/- a week I got for doing the job'. But on Saturday mornings I had to clean all the mirrors in the shop and I had to clean all the windows round down Karamu Road and they went right down to McDormand's the saddler. He was there. And that was in interesting place because all the saddles used to be made there and the windows would be all open and saddlers would be all working and you’d be able to go along and talk to them because they always put the window up next to their bench when they were making saddles. But that was quite good. But I went off to school from there.

Time went on and I grew up and straight away I went to work for Cudby & Kelt. Now Cudby and Kelt were both ... used to work for Peach’s Garage. And Peach’s Garage was a Ford place and they sold cars and they repaired cars and everything and Kelt was the salesman and Cudby was a mechanic and … 'cause Peach’s used to sell cars, the cars would come in and be on a flat deck from the railway and they would actually sell the car from there 'cause no one had a lot of money and the farmer would buy the car off the deck of the train and away it would go, and he would go home with his car and the Bank would pay out the money for the car and that’s how that went.

But Cudby & Kelt were a couple of miserable people, hard to work. If a car came in and the tyres had to be pumped up I pumped them up by hand and checked all the tyres all round and everything like that, and talked to the people that came … mostly farmers in old model T’s and everything like that and we used to repair them there and do all the jobs on the cars, and slowly wages were climbing up a little bit so Cudby & Kelt being miserable people thought “Oh, I’ve got to get rid of this joker” so they put me on to Thompson Motors.

And of course Thompson was a very genuine person, he was back from the army and everything and he was just in business … 'cause he first went into business in Dodge garage opposite the Railway Station. And straight away … then he went out to where they got this building built in Karamu Road and Mossman built the building and straight away Thompson went into it. And he took me on and of course I was pretty good at customers and looking after customers and working away there and often at weekends he’d leave me the whole place to run and look after.

But then along came the war, and all the garages were shutting don for tyres and petrol and everything like that and we were out of a job. So I thought well this is no good. I had a young family who'd just been born not long and I thought well I’ve got to have a job so I walked off down to get a ride out to Whakatu. I went and saw a chief engineer, Mr Love, and he was a very old Scotch engineer and he said 'well ring me back at 7 o’clock tonight, I’ll see how you’re going'. So I rang him back at 7 and I had a job, so that was great.

So then I got my bike out and I made my bike reasonably sound and I biked every day to Whakatu. Now they all go to the gym and that – they'd all be at the gym now to get their exercise. I didn’t need to go to a gym. I turned round and got my exercise getting to work 'cause I was always running late and I had to go eyes out all the way to Whakatu because my lungs were worked out very good and that’s how I lived to be an old age. That's how it went there.

But I got a job there and I did very well there. We used to cut girders for the buildings and measure them all up and drill all the holes for the bolts and then the girders would go up and then all Whakatu would be built and straight away the welders would come along and weld all the beams to the uprights. But I could run the freezing works - it wouldn’t matter what department it was I could run any department and if the other fitter was away from that department I could turn round and put the apprentice there, and I could look after any department and keep it going. So I had a lot of skills there. And then we put in boilers and we learnt how to assemble a new boiler and do all the tubes and expand the tubes and everything like that through building the new boilers and things like that.

I learnt how to overhaul the steam engine that used to run. That used to be quite good because after I finished overhauling it I could take it down the track and have a drive of the engine. I thought this is alright, this is good, I’m enjoying this, you know, so ...

And then after that there was other things to fix. Everything seemed to be fixed. Often somebody’s car and they’d see the boss and say ' could Claude have a look at my car, it’s not going to good' and the boss would say 'well, you’d better go down the end and have a look at it down there 'cause you know, we can’t give him too long'. So I’d check over their cars for them and I got on quite well with everybody. It didn’t matter where they were, on the chain or down in the fitting shop and the carpenter making the barrels and everything like that and I enjoyed that getting on with people. So then that was getting a bit miserable and I thought oh, I’ll have a change, it’s about time I had a change.

So I thought, this will be good - I’ll go and get a job at Wattie's. They were a young firm coming on and everything like that and they were starting to get on quite good and I got a job there. The first job I applied for the job was Briggs the engineer and he's turned round and said 'I don’t know how good you are', and I said 'well I don’t know how good the firm is to work for, it might be a lousy firm to work for but I’ll tell you what, we’ll have an agreement. I’ll work for you for three weeks and if you don’t like me you fire me.' And they said Oh, we'll take you on at that. That’s alright.

So the first job they gave me was putting decks on trucks. It was expanding and Jimmy (Sir James Wattie) had bought these trucks and the decks had to go on them and the hydraulics had to work. But before I had arrived the foreman had had another truck he’d done and he had all the trouble in the world and he couldn’t get it to work and everything, so when I went in everybody was watching the trouble I was going to have. So when I did these trucks I did the first one up and Ray was sitting in the window – he used to work in the office – Ray Wattie he used to work in the office – and he’d watch me there and he watched me put the … working out in the yard and I put the deck on the truck and everything and I got in and put the oil in and put the hoist up and up they went first pop. 'Oh gee, this is pretty good, he must know what he’s doing.' So the second truck they watched that and that worked exactly the same and the third truck and they all worked good. I was number one straight from the start. Jimmy  thought I was marvellous and Ray was telling Jimmy how good I was and everything like that and Ridge gave me a rise straight away before I was working there and he said 'oh, you know, this is good', so Jimmy goes and brings out all the old labellers and all the old junk he couldn’t get working and everything, and I had all these labellers in the yard and 'bring this one out and bring that one out, Claude will fix them all.'

And then the chap in the can plant said 'well this joker's not a bad joker, we need somebody for the second shift to run the can plant, so what about we get him in the can plant'. So he went and saw Jimmy and Jimmy hummed and haa'ed and thought it would be a good place, we need night shift there running the can plant so I went into the can plant, making cans and cutting plate for the machines that cut the plate for the cans and make the seamers and put the rubber in the joints and everything, and so I was in charge of the night shift running the can plant and we used to make 300 cans a minute and that was slow compared to today. But straight away we made cans - 'cause that was a machine that was put in during the war for the Americans. The Americans put the volume maker in and all the can plant and everything into Wattie's, and the can plant was a very good thing for Jimmy. So I used to run the can plant there at night and work with different ones. The cans used to run all night. We used to fill up the whole factory with empty cans so that when the season came you could break them down - all the stacks of empty cans - and then you’d have cans to feed right through all the time.

So I had that for a while and then Jimmy wanted to build a factory in Gisborne. So he thought oh, here you are Claude, I’ll send him up to Gisborne and he can set up the factory up there. So away I go to Gisborne and everything like that.

So in the meantime Gordon (Wattie) had been out and bought a house, and he’d bought this house up there for me to live in. And I … oh, this is alright I’ve got a place to live in. I went up there setting up the factory and then I had to encourage the wife to go to Gisborne - she wasn’t too happy about going to Gisborne. She said the family need the schools and everything like that round her and everything like that. And straight away – you know, I don’t really want to go to Gisborne so any rate Jimmy went on and I had to hum and hah 'will I go to Gisborne or won’t I go to Gisborne'. And then straight away I had an argument with Jimmy over the house. The house didn’t have enough rooms in it and this is where the point came when Jimmy - I came back to Hastings, he said he was going to carry on up in Gisborne and I was sitting down, he was opening letters down one end of the table and I’m sitting down the other end and he was arguing about it. And I said 'well, the wife says the house is too small. You'd never get the kids' - I had 4 kids then and they had to go into there, and there wasn’t enough room in it. So I said - they bought the house straight away, 'it’s a nice house I quite agree there’s nothing wrong with the house, but it’s too small'. And Jimmy says 'oh you could put the boys in the washhouse' and I said 'bloody hell, I’m not sticking them in the washhouse, you wouldn’t stick Ray and Gordon in the washhouse, and I’m bloody certain I’m not sticking mine. Now I’m not going to work there.' He said 'well you come back and work in Hastings.' 'No show,' I said. 'My labour is worth far more than sell it to you. I’d sooner turn round and pack it in and go back – I'll go back to Whakatu.'

So I get on the phone, I rang up Whakatu and they said 'start whenever you’re ready.' And I went back there for another 4 years. And then after that I thought no, I’d better have a change. I’ll go back to the food industry.

So Unilever were just setting up in Hastings - this is 1957, and they were just starting to set up and I thought oh, this is a good shop, I could set up their machinery everywhere around the compressors, and everything needed installing and all the boilers needed [to] be mounting up, this is a good challenge I’ll have this on. So I went to Unilever. I did very well there. It grew and everything like that, and then they were going to take another firm on. It was Butland's. Butland's were up in Auckland. That was another war place that had been set up in Pukekohe and that was set up there for the war - during the war - and Butland's made all their things and that there and straight away Unilever took them over. The factory had to be emptied out - I emptied out all their factory and sent it down to Hastings and that was quite a good job too, emptying out the factory, and that was a star for me, so I came back to Hastings.

And then they needed someone to run Wattie's so I got a job running all the can plant in there and in charge of all the can plant there. And we had a lot of machinery that used to process all the tomatoes and everything like that, and an Italian came out to install the machinery. Of course he couldn’t talk English. I had to get an interpreter for him and that went along and we got this machinery all installed and we used to do all the tomato paste - broke the tomatoes down there. You couldn’t get them down unless this machine was going and watered right down and made the paste and that got rid of all the tomatoes around the area.

Then I went from there and straight away while I was working for Unilever I got made an Operations Engineer. Then a job came up because we had taken a factory over which was Fropack - it used to belong to Tomoana Freezing Works. It was Fropack that was working there and as soon as Unilever took them over we turned round and took all their staff and everything like that.

So any rate – that factory, they wanted to start another factory down in the South Island and they wanted this factory emptied out and taken down to Christchurch. So I thought Oh, this is a good challenge. So I thought I’ll have this on. So I emptied out all the factory in Coventry Road which was the factory consisted of compressors, a freezing tunnel and all the cannery stuff and everything like that - quite a nice little factory and everything like that. And I went down to Christchurch and of course the labour was available down there. I employed all the labour there to install the factory and knocked them into shape there and everything like that. So the factory was installed - I was down there for 3 months putting the factory in and I used to send the wife home every third week to mow the lawns and clean the house up and everything like that. So she used to fly home there and I was entitled to come home every 3 weeks for a break but it was too long a break to come away from the factory when - the job I had, I only had 3 months to do the whole job, and I had to set it all up down there. So anyway I was down there for ... finished the job and everything, and the peas came in and the viners went out and that was that.

And then I came back to Hastings and carried on and then working for Unilever, I used to do the harvesting. I was harvesting manager and that consisted of quite a big organisation. You had to employ 70 students to start with and they had need of buses and everything to organise. You had to have buses to take them out to the fields 'cause we used to harvest round Tiko and Onga Onga and all round that district like that, and all round. So I had to set it all up. And actually the pupils were quite good. The young ones used to come in, they would come back each year for another job because they made all their money at the factory. They didn’t have to get a student loan or anything. They were working 12 hours a day working and in that time there was 3 hours on top of that, that was 15 hours they would get paid for because that was the travelling time getting to Tiko and all round like that, and they were always good. And often the night shift used to sleep out on the beach there all the day. They’d come in from work - they’d have a shower in the factory then they would turn round and go out on the beach and sleep there and round about half past three or so they would get themselves together, come into work and then they would turn round and have another shower in the factory and get in the bus at 4 o’clock they'd leave and go out the door. 'Cause on the way they'd picked up a big slab of meat and picked up a loaf of bread and a pound of butter, and that’s how they lived out on the field. 'Cause we always had a hot plate in the field that the fire was going, the wood was always round from the farmer, and they used light the fires - there was a hot plate on there and straight away they'd cook their food on that, and they lived on that.

But I’ll tell you what - the Maori joker - he was in charge of the gang, that gang - he used to make tea and did he make strong tea. He never emptied the teapot, he just threw another handful into the billy, and you could stand the spoon up in it and we always talk about Charlie’s tea, you know - we always knew about Charlie’s tea, you know. And when I used to go out checking on everything I often had a cup of tea there and it was strong.

But that’s how the field used to go. But I enjoyed all the students. They were quite good. They’d have all their little arguments and I'd have to go out and straighten them up and everything like that. And then they’d turn round and say 'we want this in the award', and I’d say 'well what about the travelling, I’ll do something about the travelling.' 'No, leave everything as it is Claude, we won’t worry about what we’re complaining about there' and everything would be peaceful again. But it was quite a job.

If the viners were rolled over it was my job to go and pick the viner up because I had to make sure the viner … be across the road. I had one across the road at the bottom of Te Aute hill and it was blocking the road up. And that was quite a job picking the viner up again 'cause I had to turn round and contact the Power Board - I had to contact the telephone people because they had to look at their side of the building. And then I had to get the cranes out and we’d pick the machine up and stand it on its feet, and I put that one round the back of Te Aute because it was in the middle of the night when I was doing all this work - I put it round the back of the Te Aute pub and I had to pick it up next day.

But straight away - the students were good there - you had to turn round and discipline them - the machines were very dangerous to drive and they were high up and everything like that and they would roll over very easy. I’d pick up many in a paddock and that, and one chappy broke both wrists jumping out of it when it was going over. But you had to turn round and keep an eye on the staff.

Often they were … tomfoolery was going on and they might roll the machine. But if they rolled the machine I’d stand them down straight away – I'd stand them down for 3 days because I’d be wound up over the machine going over because I had to get it fixed again to get it out working. And I’d turn around and stand them down, and then I’d bring them in and if they’d been tomfoolery they were fired. There was no argument about it. They were fired. And straight away, if the bridge or the bank had given away they went straight back to work again and carried on. And that’s the way it was run. Because I had to discipline them because the rest of the fielders were watching what I did and how I disciplined them and I didn’t want trouble there. And this is how it would all go.

But it was an interesting job. I actually enjoyed it. I used to run the factory in the mornings at the factory and see that everything was right, and in the afternoons I’d take off down to Tiko, Onga and all round the district checking on everything – it was behaving itself, what it was doing and everyone was keeping the machines going, and they were getting properly looked after and everything like that. But I had one chap working at night down there, the factory was full up and chock-a-block and they stopped the fielding for a while and so he thought it would be a good idea to put everybody in the bins and take them to the pub out at Tiko, and of course when I came to work next day I knew straight away where he’d been and in the pub, and straight away I called him in and I fired him. And when I fired him I said to him 'now if you go to Tasmania you mention my name there, he’ll give you a job straight away.' And this joker said 'Oh this is good – he was a good chap', and away he went to Tasmania. He got a job there in the peas over there, 'cause I had a good connection with them in Tasmania and the factories over there and everything like that. So that was quite interesting. I used to go over there to see how they harvested and everything like that and that’s how it went. That was quite a good life.

And then – Unilever – well, I retired from Unilever, they're a very good firm to work for. They looked after their staff and all they could do for their staff - you never had to worry there. I went to London once for the firm and I was out of kilter there. We went out for dinner there. They were always looking for someone to take out to dinner from overseas and we went to a place and straight away we had a room to ourselves. And you only had game for dinner, whatever it was it was always game, and straight away there I had a waiter standing behind me which annoyed me straight away, but I had to go along with this dream and play my part - I'm from overseas, and play my part and everything - but that really annoyed me there. But that’s the way it went. And I retired from Unilever and Max Grainer was the director there. We got on well together. After that we used to go up to the guides place at Kereru and we often used to often do repairs up there that was needed and everything like that around there. So that was my history there. But Hastings is a great place and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in Hastings.

That’s very, very good indeed. It’s a wonderful life you’ve had.

It’s been an enjoyable life.

Very much so.

Turkey Lowe was our buyer and he had big feet. You could get a bottle of beer into his shoes no trouble and they were big bottles of beer and I’m not talking about the ones they have today, I’m talking about the big bottles. But Turkey was a hell of a good joker. He got on with everybody. If Max and I and the rest of them - Barry Pick and all those people - were out at the pub at Havelock ... and we used to go there often on a Friday afternoons, have a let down on what had gone on during the week. And if Turkey come in there was always 3 jugs would come across to our table. But Turkey - I admired Turkey. How he got the name of Turkey Lowe, he used to work in the Riccarton factory down in Christchurch and he bought all these turkeys. And straight away he had them, they were all in a line and - 'what'll I do with these turkeys?' So he wrung all their necks and they were there ready for Monday because this was Saturday when he brought them in. And straight away they were there ready for Monday. So he got his name as Turkey then - from there on he was always to us Turkey Lowe, and I watched him go through from the butcher’s shop in Hastings and I'd see him out there with his apron on scrubbing the floors and everything like that. He was a worker and that’s how he got where he was with the freezing works and everything like that.

'Cause - actually when I worked at the freezing works Lex Waterhouse, I don’t know if you ever knew Lex Waterhouse but I got him the job at Whakatu. He used to work with me at Wattie's. He finished up at Wattie's and I said 'I’ll get you a job at Whakatu.' And I got him a job. He finished up at Whakatu in the factory putting the factory together down in Takapau. He had a stroke and everything -I always felt sorry for Lex, you know. That was Turkey Lowe any rate.

When I got the job of Operations Engineer, I had no paperwork or letters or anything – and – anything at all. I was made Operations Engineer 'cause I could fix anything.

We were coming to the age of electronics, and electronics used to be quiet in the early stage and we had machinery coming in that would turn round and weigh the peas as they went in would make the bag, form the bag and drop it out ready for it to be go to be packed to go to the customer. But straight away you had it right down to three peas falling would be the weight so the weight was really right and we’d work on those and that’s how that used to go. I was pretty dumb at paper work and the Chief Engineer he wasn’t much good at running the factory so we came to an agreement. He would do all the paper work, anything I wanted on paper he would do it, and I’d run all the factory - everything in the factory. So decision would be made there - straight away Max and Barry – I’d come up with an idea and they’d say 'oh that sounds good' and Barry would say 'I’ll go away and have a yarn to Max'. And they'd go away there, and by the time he came back I’d instrumented it and it was all running by the time he came back. I didn’t wait to get an okay on whether we do that or don’t do it, I’d go ahead and do it and they used to get very frightened of me because I'd go ahead and do something straight away. I wouldn’t turn round and wait for a boss to make a decision.

But Barry and I worked right through to our retirement and I retired there. 'Cause I used to do all the plant. You had to have an inventory of all the plant. If you discovered a line you had to get rid of that machinery. You had to go down to the dump and cut up and get rid of it and get it off the books, 'cause it was taking up a lot of the profit, so you had to do that. and I had to look after that. And after I retired they came and said 'Claude will you come back to work and finish off, 'cause nothing's been done since you left'. And the plant needs all … 'cause they were getting ready to close the plant down and sell it. And every plant had to have a number on it. I thought about it and everything, and I said to the wife 'No - I’ve retired, I’m not going to go back', and I didn’t go back. So they had to get another chappie to do all that work and do that job.

If you went back, you'd be going back and back …

If I went back I’d go over it all the time and I’d be on a contract doing the job. There’d be a contract job to do it and I didn’t want the money or taxation and looking after that side of it. My wife used to do all my paper work and I wasn’t going to burden her with that, you know. But that's how it used to go. That's when a person doesn’t need a lot of brains in that area to get to the top like that, you know, so that’s how it went. Paper work I don’t like it at all.

… Two doors from us and we lived together all the time. If you had an evening they’d do their part and the Harmans grew up – now he got up to the TV - in charge of the TV in Auckland, you know - and then he went over to London running all the TV and BUBC [BBC] and everything like that. He’s got houses in London and all round - he’s got houses in Auckland, he's got boats in Auckland and he’s on my ipad, the whole family is on my ipad and straight away, they used to go … one son went overseas with my son, they went to Europe and all round Europe and he was next in charge of the Herald paper. He's only just retired. I went over to his place in Napier not long ago and he's retired and shifted down from Auckland down there.

But he was the one that took the photo of the burial - all the Maoris on the hill, and the way he got above there and he fed them out films. The Maoris let him get through without any trouble – he got right up to the grave. He’s got this great photo of carrying the casket up the hill with all the Maoris ... a very high Maori it was, had all the cloaks over the coffin and everything like that. But he finished up next in charge of the Herald right up to the time he retired. He said 'I’m stopping there, I’m waiting for my big redundancy rather than retire.' But in the finish he retired. I still see him, I still talk to him.

But the whole family, Brent Harman, he did well too. He was in Parliament running Parliament there and everything like that. He was a reporter there before he got into television. That family - we all grew up together. Doug Harman used to be in the Chemist shop - UFS opposite Lockyer's, where Lockyer's used to be. That family - they've done so well, you know, and they still know me well, you know, and Nigel’s father - was always Nigel - his son did very well too. He owned a motel opposite the Campbell statue in Cornwall Park but it was a high class ... everything was spot on. He changed the carpets every so often. He never drained it, he put more into it all the time. In the finish some Asians bought it off him. He’s got a big house. Another one of his sons built a swimming place in Turangi. He’s got a place in North Auckland and he’s got a fishing lodge down in Turangi. So they’ve done well too. Good to see them do well too.

But one of my sons spent the whole Antarctic – over-wintered in Antarctic.   He used to be in the navy and then he went down to Antarctic, and he cooked and – looked after all the food and everything – put the Christmas parties on and everything – all in the Antarctic. And that was in the early days, and his photo is in the hall now, up in the Antarctic.

Well, what a life!

So, so even with the family. I’ve enjoyed the family too, you know..

Claude I’ve got to thank you for that talk on behalf …

Well, I hope I didn’t bore you.

Not at all. No, I’m wide awake, I couldn’t go to sleep and doze off or anything like that – you were ….

Well straight away, you turned round and said you'll interview at Hastings, and I started to scratch my head and thought - what the hell do I know about Hastings? You know, I knew where all the shops were. But - I don’t know anything about Hastings you know, and I’ve lived here all my life. But you know, like I knew where the rivers used to go round through Hastings at the back of – I lived in a railway house in Willowpark Road - at the back of there, the river flowed all through that area. That was just bare paddocks when I was growing up.

'Cause after the earthquake – when the earthquake come, we couldn’t live in our house – my father worked on the railways - we got all these railway covers there - underneath the trees in the house next door. We hung all these up there, and I went in and got the mattresses out of the house and we dragged them across to there, and then we brought the fireplace up with a couple of bricks and a hotplate. We did all our washing in the horse trough that was all there. There was a well right next on the property and we used to pump water all the time in the horse trough and you did all your washing and everything in the horse trough. But that was after the earthquake, you know. And we stopped for 5 days before we were evacuated to Palmerston. I sat on the back of a truck and they took me to Palmerston. My mother went off in another car, and I had to find her when I got to Palmerston. I can always remember the earthquake when I was at Parkvale School and the swimming baths and the water went up - you know how you get a thing and you splash it backwards and forwards and the water went right away up into the air. I can still that water away up in the air, you know. In the swimming baths there.


If you don’t get up and go you’ll be here tomorrow morning and I’ll still be talking. 'Cause what I do when I start talking – I live here and I might go two or three days - I never talk to anybody, don’t see anybody – for two or three days and then - I don’t want to go out. I’ve got enough tucker in there – got my tucker well stocked up there. But the neighbours are very good. They'll often come in and bring me in some – somebody might do some baking and bring it in. But I get on well with all these people round here. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Well, thank you ...

And I’m going to Auckland for Christmas.

Are you?

This morning my son rang me up and said he’s got this new Italian car, big flash car, and said 'I'd love to drive down – I'll drive down and pick you up'. 'Oh, no, I have to fly up,' you know – I fly up to Auckland and he picks me up at the airport, you know, then away I go – brings me down and then I fly home again. 'No', he said 'I might drive down', he said 'you can catch up on all the mischief I get up to down here,' you know. So he'll come down and I’ll go up there for Christmas. But they’re having 26 people for Christmas, you know - so that'll be a big Christmas.

Yep - well, I wish you a Merry Christmas …

Yes, same to you.

... and a Happy New Year.

And it's not the last you'll see of me.

No, I'll be back to see you.

Yes – anytime, give me a ring and say – you know, if I'm home and everything like that. But if my son comes down I'd like to take him out to have a look at … out there.

More than welcome.

Yes. And I'll say - there's the box you leave your subs in on the way out.

Claude Davidson
Original digital file: 
File Claude Davidson861 Edited.ogg27.27 MB
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